Are We Starting To Feel It Now, Or What?


Stage 4 started bright and early in Bowling Green, with our start position at 78 – the earliest we’ve gone out yet. It turned out to be a mixed emotions day. On the way to pick up our instructions we learned that our brother-in-law’s Dad passed away this morning. After getting through the initial shock, Lauren decided we were going to dedicate today’s performance to Ray. We were determined it was going to be a good one with Ray looking over us!

We got out on the road and ran the calibration run with no problem, but determined we would need to adjust the speedometer since we were losing about 11 seconds / hour. With that adjustment made, we were ready to go.

Today’s stage was a beautiful ride through the rolling hills of Kentucky, with stunning vistas, impressive farms, and gorgeous horse ranches. Rolling hills (and these are some serious rolling hills!) present a different challenge when trying to hold a constant speed. Obviously, when going uphill you have to apply power to maintain speed, and going downhill you need to use the brakes to hold the car steady.

The challenge is, to do that when you must maintain and – usually increase – that power through the crest of the hill and not shoot past your target speed (by too much) and end up several mph over the target as you head downhill, is really tricky. Likewise, holding the car at speed downhill with the brakes introduces the risk of too much braking and therefore slowing you down too much. Feathering the throttle properly is a skill to be mastered! (One I haven’t yet mastered.)

But the Ranchero performs admirably. The car responds almost instantly to the request for more power, so I have to be very careful to not apply too much gas. On the downhill, the brakes have functioned perfectly, with no evidence of fading, even on long stretches.

We also seem to have gotten our mojo back and were able to score our first ace of the rally along with a couple of low score legs. We finished with a score of 14.63s second for the day – our best day so far! But it could have been better – we had our time of day on the stopwatch off by 6 seconds so our starts were 6 seconds too early! If we had had started at the right time we would have gotten 2 aces and our score would have been around 5 seconds. Another lesson learned! Always verify your clock with another trusted source!

We’re hoping we are done with all our “user error” problems now and will see if we can get back in the hunt to score well in our class. Tomorrow we depart from our overnight location in Indianapolis and head to Wapakoneta, OH for our lunch stop and to Auburn, IN for our overnight stop. We’re looking forward to seeing some terrific automobiles there!